Electives: The Search for an Unforgettable Experience

Medical School, smell the roses

With the start of a new year of medical school comes the responsibility of finding suitable medical schools and teaching hospitals which accept international medical students and offer the programs I am interested in that would not cost an arm and a leg.

Since most students have a hard time finding sites all in one convenient place if their school doesn't have an office which can assist with arrangements I've decided to compile a list of sites I've found which have helped me a lot narrow down a few programs I will be applying to in a matter of weeks in order to keep the deadline.

Before applying for an elective it would be wise to find out what your school requires and the documentation they would need in order to honor your acceptance into an elective program abroad. It is also best to decide on areas of interest as you wouldn't want to spend 4-8 weeks abroad in a country you may not be familiar with working in an area that you don't care too much for.

It may be in your best interest to also speak to persons you may know who decided to spend their elective period abroad to figure out how they planned their trip and who they spoke to at the University as a means of expediting the process of transcript requests, Dean's letters or recommendations that programs may require you to submit. The British Medical Association offers a nicely written article on Choosing Your Medical Elective that I would also suggest you reading before conducting your search.

Medical Electives

1. The Student Room

I must have squealed with excitement when I came cross the article on The Student Room's website. It gives a detailed list of medical electives located in the United Kingdom as well as mentioning a company that assists students with organizing a placement in electives abroad called Work the World. 

Be sure to read the advice given on choosing an elective, Visas, Insurance and accommodations as they are vital components in the process as well. 

2. Electives in US Medical Schools

If you have an interest in applying for a Residency spot in the United States, this site would offer you with a comprehensive listing of US Medical Schools which offer elective opportunities to International Medical Graduates or those who will be graduating from an International Medical School without any affiliation to the United States. 

Keep in mind that some schools would require that the USMLE Step 1 be completed before or by the time you apply, while others are only open for research. It is important you read the requirements carefully before getting your hopes up. 

Some of the listings offer contact information for the advisor of the school, who is responsible for assisting International students seeking an elective opportunity- BE SURE TO USE IT!

3. Electives via an Organization

Most medical students are familiar with the organization Doctors without Borders. If you're not as familiar with their purpose or mission feel free to read more about them here. Doctors without Borders is an independent, international medical relief organization, with posts in 70 countries throughout the world. They are mainly concerned with emergency relief or medical assistance where the medical infrastructure is lacking or nonexistent. 

They also offer elective and volunteer opportunities for medical students. 

As I mentioned earlier, Work the World is another international elective opportunity organization, that works with students to ensure the process is simplified and worry-free. 

Be mindful that Work the World offers fewer global elective opportunities and can become quite expensive; especially if you're interested in more than one of their 'optional extras' that can be added to your overall elective expense. 

Another at your fingertips elective database of sorts is The Electives Network; also known as TEN. If you're willing to sign up for the membership, you can be safe knowing that someone else is taking the time to conduct research on opportunities you may not be able to do, and 100% dedicated to finding a match based on what you are looking for. 

While on the TEN website be sure to visit their "Ready Made Electives" under the "Plan your Elective" tab at the top for a listing of other organizations that offer international electives. 

So there you have it for the most part anyways. A small listing of sites for your perusal while you start planning for another exciting step in your medical journey.  If you know of other sites that you have found useful, feel free to share them in the comments section below. 

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